Thursday, October 16, 2008

Parachute Analogy

From the LawMan over at The LawMan Chronicles - A long read but more than well worth it.


Parachute Analogy

David Kingsley served as a Portland firefighter before entering the Army Air Corps in April 1942. He answered his nation's call to service when it needed him most.

Kingsley received his bombardier wings during the Summer of 1943, after which he joined the 97th Bombardment Group. Kingsley's group was stationed in Italy.

On June 23, 1944, Second Lieutenant Kingsley and the rest of his fellow bomber crewmen participated in an attack on the oil targets around Ploesti, Romania. It was Kingsley's 20th mission over enemy territory. The flak and enemy fighter assaults were particularly ferocious in the area of Ploesti, and this day was no different.

Kingsley's bomber was badly damaged during the bomb run, but the pilot was able to maintain control of the aircraft, which allowed Kingsley to drop the bombs with precision. Kingsley's bomber was so badly damaged that it fell behind the rest of the formation and began to lose altitude. Three German ME-109 fighter pilots saw an opportunity to exact vengeance and mercilessly fired upon the wounded bomber.

The tail gunner was severely wounded in the arm. Other crewmen yelled to Kingsley, asking him to render aid. The tail gunner's parachute and flak jacket was removed and he was covered in blankets, in order to make him as comfortable as possible.

Moments later, eight ME-109's attacked the bomber. This time the ball turret gunner was severely wounded. The bomber was going down. There was no hope for the plane.

Kingsley immediately put the ball turret gunner's parachute on him. The tail gunner's parachute was lost in the chaos of flying blankets and equipment as the bomber continued to descend. Kingsley, with no regard for himself, took off his parachute and put it on the tail gunner. When the pilot ordered the crew to bail out, Kingsley helped his two wounded comrades to the open bomb bay and pushed them out of the plane, saving their lives.

As the the rest of the bomber crew members jumped for their lives, they reported last seeing Second Lieutenant Kingsley standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The bomber remained in the air for just a few more moments until it crashed into the ground and burned. Kingsley's body was later found in the wreckage.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, Second Lieutenant David Kingsley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor--our nation's highest military award.

Had Kingsley not put the parachutes on the wounded men, they, would have died in the plane crash. This certainly was true for the wounded tail gunner to whom Kingsley gave his own parachute, sacrificing his life in the process. He literally took the tail gunner's place on the mortally wounded bomber.

Theological Insights from a True Story

What an extraordinary picture of Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross and the regeneration of fallen, helpless people!

First, some very encouraging Scriptures regarding the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ:"Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep...For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:11, 14-15, 17-18).

"Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man' though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8)."For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21)."

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:13-14)."

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5)."

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Without a propitiation making payment for the sins of men, without a substitute taking the place of punishment for the penal debt men owe to God for their sins against Him, there would be no hope whatsoever for any member of the human race. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, took upon Himself the punishment every person deserves for their sins against God when He voluntarily, and in obedience to the Father's will, went to the cross and shed His perfect sinless blood as a ransom for many--as a ransom for the Elect who bear in their redeemed souls and who exhibit in their lives the fruit of the gifts, of repentance and faith.

Without the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross no one has been saved; no one can be saved; no one will be saved. Praise and thanks be to Almighty God that instead of condemning all of mankind to eternity in hell, which all of mankind deserves for their sins against Him, He chose--in accordance with His loving, gracious, merciful, and kind nature--to save some through the sacrificial death and the glorious resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. God would be just if He condemned everyone to hell. And God is just if He chooses to save, if He chooses to pardon some, accepting as propitiation the death of His one and only Son.

And now, Scriptures that articulate the beautiful doctrine of regeneration:

"But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13)."

Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God...That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again"'" (John 3:3, 6-7).

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44).

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved...For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9)."

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God and Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).

"Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18).

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Salvation is of God, by God, and for the glory of God. Salvation is by the grace of God alone, completely devoid of and separated from the works of sinful mankind. Even repentance and faith are gifts from God, which are made manifest as a result of God causing a person to be born again.

Just as a person must be born physically before they can live in this world, a person must be born again before they can have eternal life, and before they can repent and believe the gospel. And just as a person has nothing whatsoever to do with their physical birth, a person likewise has nothing whatsoever to do with their spiritual rebirth.

Yes, a person responds to the preaching of the Gospel. Yes, a person turns away from their sin and believes the Gospel. But a person can only do so if the Father is drawing that person to faith in the Son. Regeneration is not a result of the heritage of any man, or the will of any unregenerate man's sinful flesh. It is entirely a result of the sovereign, gracious, divine, and miraculous intervention of Almighty God in a person's life and soul. A person who is physically dead can do nothing to bring himself back to life. Likewise, a person who is spiritually dead can do nothing to bring himself to life spiritually.

God is sovereign. Man is not.

The only atonement acceptable to God, for the remission of sins against God, could only be accomplished by the sinless God Man, Jesus Christ the Lord. As a result, the regeneration of any man is caused by God, according to the will of God, for the glory of God.

These are weighty subjects; and not all genuine followers of Jesus Christ agree. I know that the positions I've articulated here so briefly, and without the scholarship of theologians far better schooled than I am, are positions that some Christians find offensive--even heretical. While I do not desire to offend any of my Christian brethren, and while I do not seek to cause strife or to cause any of my brethren to stumble, and without seeking to make my point with dramatic flair, I must agree with Martin Luther when he said, "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other."

"Let God be true though every one were a liar" (see Rom. 3:4).

God's Word is true.

There is only one right interpretation of any verse or passage in the Word of God. It is not your opinion that matters. It certainly is not my opinion that matters. How one feels about what God says in His Word is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters when it comes to studying, interpreting, and conveying to others the Word of God is what God means by what He has said in His Word. Therefore, the challenge for every true follower of Jesus Christ is to find out what God means by what He has said.

Application:

Now that I've shared the analogy and the rich theology it contains, how can this analogy be used in the context of biblical evangelism?

After sharing the Law and the Gospel, and having shared the story of the heroism of Lt. David Kingsley, I might say something like this to an unsaved person:

There was absolutely nothing the wounded bomber crewmen could do to save their own lives. They were helpless. Had Lt. Kingsley not sacrificially intervened on their behalf, they would have perished in a ball of flames when the bomber hit the ground.

Likewise, there is nothing you can do to save yourself, spiritually. You are every bit as helpless as the wounded crewmen in the bomber. Unless God miraculously, graciously, and lovingly intervenes in your life you will perish and spend eternity in the fires of hell, as the just punishment for your sins against God.

Lt. Kingsley's sacrifice was evidenced by the fact that he died a horrible death as he went down with the plane, literally taking the place of his wounded crewmen. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The effect of Lt. Kingsley's sacrifice was evidenced by the fact that he caused the wounded crewmen to be saved when he fitted them with parachutes and caused them to float to safety when he pushed them through the open bomb bay doors, before the plane crashed.

Likewise Jesus Christ died a horrible, bloody death on the cross for the sins of those who belong to Him. There is no more vivid and tangible evidence of the sacrifice and love of God than the cross of Jesus Christ. And the evidence that God has extended to you the free gift of eternal life, the evidence that He has literally caused you to be born again will be this: You will repent. You will turn away from and forsake your sins against God. And by faith alone you will receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

What do you think the attitude was of the wounded crewmen who were saved by Lt. Kingsley? Do you think they were grateful? Do you think they took any credit for their rescue? Do you think they forever had a fond affection for Lt. Kingsley? Do you think they spoke highly of him and spoke of him often? And how do you think those crewmen would respond to anyone who tried to drag Lt. Kingsley's name through the mud, deny his valor, or even deny his existence?

So, too, will it be with you--if God saves you. You will repent of your sins against God and you will receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will love the Lord Jesus Christ, with thankfulness in your heart. You will gladly submit to him as the Lord of Your life and take no credit for your salvation. You will begin to love the things that God loves, and you will begin to hate the things that God hates. You will think often about Jesus Christ. You will love to read His Word. You will want to spend time with Him in prayer. You will long to be with Him, in heaven. You will defend His name and His honor against anyone who would blaspheme His name or deny His existence and life-saving power. And you will tell others about what He has done for you, with the hope that God will extend to them the salvation He has given to you.

And when you sin against Him, when you fall short of God's glory (and you will), instead of trying to justify your sin or exonerate yourself, you will cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness.

I wonder what the conversation was like in the bomber between Lt. Kingsley and the wounded crewmen. I can hear them crying out to Kingsley, begging him to help them. They realized that there was nothing they could do to save themselves. They knew that unless Kingsley intervened they would perish when the plane crashed.

Cry out to God, right now. Repent. Confess your sins--the sins you've committed against Him. Beg for His forgiveness and ask Him to save you. Place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Lt. Kingsley, a hero, was the only hope for the wounded crewmen. Jesus Christ, the Lord, is your only hope. Apart from Him, without His miraculous intervention in your life, you will perish in your sins.

My hope is that He saves you.

1 comment:

Question of Identity said...

Great story and fantastic application. It has been imprinted on my mind and I am sure I will use it sometime.

Thanks for passing this on!

Neil